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Supporting future nuclear safeguards professionals

Farnaz Lyla Alimehri, Teodor Nicula-Golovei

“The next generation must play an indispensable role in reinforcing non-proliferation and in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.” 
— Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General


To support the next generation of nuclear non-proliferation professionals, the IAEA engages students through youth competitions, provides fellowships and internships, and employs junior professionals as they start their careers in areas such as nuclear verification.

“The next generation must play an indispensable role in reinforcing non-proliferation and in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General, at the Advancing the ‘Youth, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament’ Agenda side event to the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in August 2022.

Youth competitions

In 2022, the IAEA invited students to participate in a competition held in conjunction with the 14th Symposium on International Safeguards at the IAEA’s Headquarters from 31 October to 4 November. Students were given the task of producing papers on the subjects related to the evolution of safeguards to date. These included addressing contemporary challenges; anticipating and preparing for a changing landscape; leveraging innovations for safeguards applications; and identifying ways of engaging people and expanding partnerships. Around 40 submissions were received from around the world. After review by the IAEA selection committee, three winners were chosen from Australia, Romania and the United States of America. Authors of the winning papers were supported by the IAEA to attend the Symposium in person to present their papers and contribute to the dialogue on the past, present and future of international nuclear safeguards.

“With this year’s Symposium, we also wish to engage with new and previously unheard voices, in addition to seasoned safeguards practitioners,” said Jenni Rissanen, Team Lead of Safeguards Strategic Planning and Scientific Secretary of the Symposium.

Fellowship programmes and internships

In 2020, the IAEA launched its Marie Skłodowska–Curie Fellowship Programme, which aims to help increase the number of women in the nuclear field and thereby support an inclusive workforce. Fellowships are awarded annually, with up to 150 female students selected per year, depending on the availability of funds.

The programme supports emerging professionals with scholarships and an internship opportunity, and provides young women with access, knowledge and insight into the IAEA and the broader nuclear field. The diversity of each cohort creates greater opportunities for learning, exchange and a community of support for continued engagement.

Inna Rodina, a current Marie Skłodowska–Curie Fellow, completed her master’s programme in non-proliferation and terrorism studies, and worked at the Rosatom Technical Academy, the Center for Energy and Security Studies in Moscow, and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

“My professional experience meant that I have keenly followed the work of the IAEA,” said Rodina who, as part of the Marie Skłodowska–Curie Fellowship, is undertaking an internship with the IAEA’s safeguards strategic planning team. “Being able to join the Agency, I’m now seeing first-hand how the IAEA uses technical measures to verify that nuclear material and technology remains in peaceful use, thus deterring the spread of nuclear weapons,” she added.

The IAEA offers internships to students and recent graduates to provide them with the opportunity to gain practical work experience in line with their studies or interests and learn about the work of the Agency. Furthermore, the Junior Professional Officer programme, based on an agreement between Member States and the IAEA, provides young professionals with an opportunity to acquire on-the-job professional experience.


October, 2022
Vol. 63-3

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